CINCINNATI — It’s been a particularly difficult year for nonprofits as they work to stay active. But two Cincinnati nonprofits decided to come together for the benefit of them both. 

What You Need To Know

  • The Play Library is a nonprofit that allows the community to rent out its space and its games

  • The pandemic shifted entirely how the Play Library ran, so the executive director decided to partner with another non-profit to help them both

  • LADD empowers adults to live and serve in the community and has already utilized the Play Library before the pandemic

  • Now, the Play Library gives the adults supported by LADD a safe place to go during the pandemic

​​It’s a different kind of play than usual at the Play Library these days. But what isn’t different now? The nonprofit is based around sharing toys and space. But when the pandemic hit, it caused the executive director Joni Sherman to think outside of the box and examine how play could still happen in the space.

“The very nature of play is people close together, connecting, handling the same game pieces, cards," Sherman said. "So, it’s made it very very difficult.”

That’s when Sherman thought of LADD — a nonprofit that empowers adults with disabilities to live, work and connect in the Cincinnati community. 

“We reached out to LADD and said, hey, here’s the space. You can use this amazing, creative play space that we have to bring your people here to shake it up a little bit for them," Sherman said.

“Joni’s phone call to me really made me feel like it was possible to carry on our supports through the pandemic," said Faith Maynard, the program manager for community connections at LADD. "And we were able to use our partnership with the Play Library as a model to forge similar partnerships throughout the community.”

LADD had already utilized the play library before the pandemic, but Sherman thought it may be a safe space for these adults to come when so many of their activities had been shut down.

“Typically we would have a full roster of music excursions and athletic classes and volunteer jobs," Maynard said. "When the pandemic hit, we knew we couldn’t just interrupt our services because there were so many families and individuals who depended on us for their physical and mental health.”

Now, adults supported by LADD come to the play library several times a week to play Uno or make bracelets

“Coming to the play library with community connections keeps me active and out in the community," Jason Bodle, an adult supported by LADD said.

And while life looks a little different for everyone involved, it’s allowed both non-profits to get through this pandemic while supporting themselves and each other.

“We can’t wait to go back to life as it was, but we’re super happy to have places to connect and to serve our community in the limited ways that we’re able to now," Maynard said.

“This is a happy, fun space where obviously play is totally encouraged," Sherman said. "So, I think that it’s so great that we’ve been able to figure out how to keep our doors open to people because it’s been hard, it’s been very difficult.”